This is me crossing one off the bucket list (maging isang published writer.)

The unedited version’s here:

Now I just have to experience do a bungee jump, skinny dipping, win a Peabody, a Grammy and a Palanca. lol

I CAN STILL remember it quite vividly. I had been absent from school for three days straight because I had chickenpox, but I was already recuperating. You see, my sister first had it, then my brother?you know the drill; it?s pretty much like A(H1N1). So I was stuck at home. My mama and I were watching ?Eat Bulaga,? and they were airing the game ?Korek Ka Dyan!? The host announced that they were looking for graduating elementary students to join the contest, and coincidentally I was a graduating elementary student. Mama, being the true-blooded game show addict that she was, got the idea and pushed me into joining the show. And since I was your resident ?yes-mom-okay-mom-girl? I agreed, thinking, ?What the heck? It?s just a game show. I don?t even have the slightest chance of qualifying.?

So off we went to Broadway Centrum. There were lots of students aspiring to be one of the 18 contestants, and some were kind enough to talk to me. But since I am the snobbish-type, not to mention that I had a contagious disease, I didn?t talk to my seatmates inside the studio-cum-test-area that day.

The audition was like a 20-item entrance exam. Sure, the questions were no-brainers, but you had to answer them all in 60 seconds!

A week later, I watched the ?Korek Ka Dyan? episode featuring the students category I wanted to join, and I thought, ?Hey I didn?t get in. So much for my first game show experience.?

But surprise, surprise! Kuya Joel, a member of the ?Eat Bulaga? staff, called me one Wednesday night and said that I had qualified and that I needed to go to Broadway Centrum on Friday at exactly 9 a.m. I was ecstatic and nervous and excited, mainly because I would have a crack at winning P1 million.

That Friday, my ever-supportive mom and I went to Broadway Centrum where I met the other 17 students vying for the P1-million jackpot. We were told to draw numbers, and I got either the number 9 or 6. I couldn?t tell which number I got, but since my would-be-partner said she had the 6 (talk about being judgmental at age 12), I accepted that I had the 9 and was coupled with another girl.

Waiting for the segment was tiring, excruciating even. I was so restless and anxious that I thought I might throw up. I couldn?t enjoy watching the other parts of the show, although we contestants were occupying premiere seats.

When finally, it was our time ?to shine,? I stood up along with the other contestants and went onstage for last-minute preparations and practice (you know, so we won?t look stupid in front of national TV). Francis M. (may he rest in peace) then introduced us one by one, and I was so nervous that I almost backed out. Remember the feeling you had when you were about to make your thesis defense? It?s a bit like that, only made worse by the realization that millions of Filipinos are watching and waiting to laugh at every single mistake you make.

My partner and I did pretty well in the first round, and qualified for the second. I cannot remember anymore what question we were asked, but I will never, ever forget the answer that was supposed to be the key to my P1 million: ?PROTEIN.? Unfortunately, my partner either didn?t know how it was spelled or got confused. I had the task of arranging the first syllable, P-R-O, and T-E-I-N was hers to do. As soon as I finished, I ran and pressed the buzzer. But I noticed many people in the audience looking at me, and mouthing something like ?Mali ang spelling.? Some, including my mom, were shouting that we had the spelling wrong. My mind went blank and all I did in the five seconds left to us was look at the shouting audience, then to my partner, and the board. We didn?t know what was wrong, until the opposing team hit the buzzer. Those two lucky ones were going to the third round, not us.

As if to make our pain worse, they made us sit and watch the other kids answer questions that would bring one of them to the final round. I was really envious because it could have been us sitting there. And they didn?t even know the answers to very easy questions!

But I guess that was it for me. I thought I should just move on. I went home with P500 in my pocket. It was the biggest amount I ever had and it made me smile.

On our way home, my mom kept ranting about my stupidity and telling me how funny I appeared on TV, looking so confused and oblivious of what was happening.

Surprisingly, I slept that night feeling contented. All I could think about was how I would spend my P500 consolation prize.

The following Monday, a classmate told me that her mom had seen me on TV. She kept calling me ?Proteni? because that was how my partner got it. That was when I knew I would never forget how ?protein? is spelled.

Whenever I look back to the experience, I cannot help but wonder what would have happened if I had won in the game show. I would have bought lots of pretty things, but then it wouldn?t have been right to have so much money instantly at such a young age for then I would never learn how to earn money the hard way. I might not be striving as hard as I do today (I mean striving to get the job that I want) because I would already have lots of money. I might not have met all the wonderful people I keep meeting these days. I might not be writing this now. And without experiencing failure, I might not have the drive to strive to become rich. Right?

Today I am charging everything to experience (which is so much fun to look back at). And I cannot help but feel good that the girls who beat us didn?t win the million (ha-ha, I am so bad).

I still want to join another game show?maybe ?Pinoy Henyo? or ?Who Wants to be a Millionaire???just for kicks.

Carmina Giezzelle G. Mones, 21, is a mass communication graduate of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.